The new year promises a lot of wonderful opportunities and exciting life moments that we can't even begin to imagine yet. But more than anything, a new year brings the promise of new MOVIES! And while 2015 was a banner year for entertainment, 2016 promises to be an even bigger circus of thrills. Universal Pictures led this past twelve months at the box office, delivering one hit movie after the next. And they show no signs of slowing down anytime in the foreseeable future. The following days, weeks and months are sure to delight cinema enthusiasts, pop corn munchers and couples just looking for a fun date alike. What can we expect to see as 2016 begins it's trudge forward?
The New Year kicks off with a bang for Universal. Their first big movie is a sequel to the 2014 comedy blockbuster Ride Along. Ride Along 2 reteams Kevin Hart and Ice Cube for a new mission in Miami. And it will bring a lot of new and returning faces into the mix for a laugh-filled, action packed ride! The winter fun continues just a few weeks later with The Coen Brothers new comedy caper Hail, Caesar! This whodunnit travels back to the Golden Age of Hollywood with an all-star cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin, George Clooney and the great Dolph Lundgren.
Spring break is going to bring the wedding of the year, as Universal releases the long awaited sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which reunites Nia Vardalos and John Corbett for more romance and hijinks. The spring fun continues with the all-new original comedy The Boss, which gives Melissa McCarthy a chance to shine in a role unlike any she has ever taken on before. The goddess of laughs will be joined by a stellar ensemble that includes Peter Dinklage, Kristen Schaal, Kathy Bates and the beautiful, sexy and so strong she can break your head open with a softball pitch Cecily Strong. The spring fun comes to an end with the fantasy sequel The Huntsman: Winter's War. Who needs Snow White when you've got Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron locked in a war to rule a fairy tale land?
Universal Pictures kicks off summer with one of the most anticipated sequels of the year, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Zac Efron and Seth Rogen have forgotten their past transgressions, and now must team up to stop a group of sorority sisters, led by Selena Gomez and Chloe Moretz, from ruining the neighborhood. The summer laughs keep on coming with Top Secret Untitled Lonely Island Movie, which sees Digital Shorts kings Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer taking on the shadier side of the music industry. The Summer really heats up in June, when Universal finally delivers their long anticipated fantasy adventure, video game adaptation Warcraft.
In July, Frank Grillo will return to survive the streets yet again in The Purge 3, which promises to be the biggest and best chapter in this franchise yet. Just a few short days later, Universal enters the family film realm with their animated comedy The Secret Life of Pets, which shows just what all those cats and dogs are doing when you're away. The end of July brings one of Universal's biggest movies of the year in the Untitled Next Bourne Chapter, which brings Matt Damon back to the big screen in his iconic role as Jason Bourne. Heading into the dog days of summer, Universal is set to release a new movie experience unlike any other with Spectral. Decsribed as a 3D action adventure movie, an elite Spec Ops team take on a mission to thwart an aggressive phantom threat that cannot be explained.
Universal Pictures kicks off the fall moviegoing season with the anticipated sequel Bridget Jones' Baby. Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth reunite for this third chapter in the Bridget Jones series, and it promises to be the best one yet. Now with the year in full on Oscar territory, Universal is also releasing the thriller The Girl on the Train, which boasts a strong cast lead by Academy Award hopefuls Rebecca Ferguson and Emily Blunt. The fall isn't all serious business, though. We'll also be getting the new concert film Kevin Hart: What Now?, which gives the comedian his second potential hit from Universal in 2016. And it just wouldn't be Halloween without a new horror offering from the studio. This year, Ouija 2 will be bringing in big scares in wide release across the country.
Universal ends its big year with four movies that are sure to please most audiences, no matter who they are. A Meyers Christmas will have comedy fans celebrating the holidays in style, while The Great Wall will be aiming for Oscar gold. We'll also get the romantic Christmas Eve treat Let It Snow. It all comes to an end with Universal's second big family film of the year, the animated comedy musical Sing, which features an all-star line-up of vocal talent including Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson and Reese Witherspoon. What do you think? Is this going to be one of Universal's biggest years at the movies yet? Take a look at all new pictures and synopsis for everything coming our way from the studio over the next 12 months.
Ride Along 2 - January 15
Kevin Hart and Ice Cube lead the returning lineup of Ride Along 2, the sequel to the blockbuster action-comedy that gave us the year's most popular comedy duo. They are joined in the film by Ride Along co-stars Bruce McGill and Tika Sumpter, as well as those new to the series, including Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt and Olivia Munn. The behind-the-scenes team also returning for the next chapter are director Tim Story, as well as Cube's fellow producers, Will Packer, Matt Alvarez and Larry Brezner.
Hail, Caesar! - February 5
Four-time Oscar®-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood's Golden Age. Starring JJosh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix. The comedy is produced by the Coen brothers under their Mike Zoss Productions banner alongside Working Title Films' Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 - March 25
Gold Circle Entertainment and HBO present a Playtone production of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, the long-awaited follow-up to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Written by Academy Award® nominee Nia Vardalos, who stars alongside the entire returning cast of favorites, the film reveals a Portokalos family secret that will bring the beloved characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding. Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee, Waking Ned Devine) directs the next chapter of the film that will be once again produced by Rita Wilson and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. Paul Brooks and Steve Shareshian return to executive produce alongside Vardalos and Scott Niemeyer. Universal Pictures will distribute the comedy domestically and in select international territories.
The Boss - April 8
Academy Award-nominated star Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Tammy) headlines The Boss as a titan of industry who is sent to prison after she's caught for insider trading. When she emerges ready to rebrand herself as America's latest sweetheart, not everyone she screwed over is so quick to forgive and forget. Melissa McCarthy is joined in The Boss by an all-star cast led by Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage and Kathy Bates. Directed by Ben Falcone (Tammy), the comedy is based on an original character created by McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Falcone alongside their Groundlings collaborator, Steve Mallory. The film is produced by McCarthy and Falcone through their On the Day productions and Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy through their Gary Sanchez Productions.
The Huntsman: Winter's War - April 22
The fantastical world of Snow White and the Huntsman expands to reveal how the fates of The Huntsman Eric and Queen Ravenna are deeply and dangerously intertwined. Chris Hemsworth and Oscar® winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in The Huntsman: Winter's War, an epic action-adventure in which they are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. Producer Joe Roth (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland) once again leads the team in a breathtaking new tale nested in the legendary saga. Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White's blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom. With Freya's ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen-including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)-only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love. When Freya learns of her sister's demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power. But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it's ever seen. Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable...unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen's cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.
Returning stars Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne are joined by Chloe Moretz for Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, the follow-up to 2014's most popular original comedy. Also back in the same duties are director Nicholas Stoller and series producers Evan Goldberg, James Weaver and Rogen, who produce under their Point Grey Pictures banner. Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien serve as executive producers alongside Good Universe's Nathan Kahane and Joe Drake. The comedy's writers include Rogen, Stoller, Goldberg, Cohen and O'Brien.
Top Secret Untitled Lonely Island Movie, starring digital-shorts superstars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, who are collectively known as The Lonely Island. Co-directed by Schaffer and Taccone, the comedy from blockbuster producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Trainwreck) will be set in the world of music. The feature film is produced by Apatow, Rodney Rothman, Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer and executive produced by Morgan Sackett. The Top Secret Untitled Lonely Island Movie will be released by Universal Pictures worldwide.
Warcraft - June 10
From Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures comes Warcraft, an epic adventure of world-colliding conflict based on Blizzard Entertainment's global phenomenon. The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home. So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something. Directed by Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) and written by Charles Leavitt and Jones, the film starring Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ben Schnetzer, Rob Kazinsky and Daniel Wu is a Legendary Pictures, Blizzard Entertainment and Atlas Entertainment production.The producers are Charles Roven, Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Alex Gartner and Stuart Fenegan. Jillian Share, Brent O'Connor, Michael Morhaime and Paul Sams serve as executive producers. Rob Pardo, Chris Metzen, Nick Carpenter and Rebecca Steel Roven co-produce. Warcraft will be released by Universal Pictures.
The Purge 3 - July 1
Expanding upon the explosive universe introduced in the sleeper hits that have earned $200 million at the worldwide box office, Universal Pictures' The Purge 3 reveals the next terrifying chapter of 12 hours of anarchy that is sanctioned annually by the New Founders of America. Once again returning to collaborate with DeMonaco are the series' producers: Blumhouse Productions' Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious and Sinister series), Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Ouija), alongside Sébastien K. Lemercier (Assault on Precinct 13, Four Lovers).
The Secret Life of Pets - July 8
For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day. Comedy superstars Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart make their animated feature-film debuts in The Secret Life of Pets, which co-stars Steve Coogan, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, Jenny Slate and Albert Brooks. Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and his longtime collaborator Janet Healy produce the film directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2), co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and written by Brian Lynch and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio.
Untitled Next Bourne Chapter - July 29
Global superstar Matt Damon returns to his most iconic role as Jason Bourne in the fifth installment of Universal Pictures' Bourne franchise. Acclaimed director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Captain Phillips) also returns for this much-anticipated chapter, and Frank Marshall again produces alongside Jeffrey Weiner for Captivate Entertainment. Greengrass, Damon, Gregory Goodman and Ben Smith also produce. The action-thriller is written by Greengrass and Christopher Rouse.
Spectral - August 12
Legendary Pictures'Spectral, a 3D action-thriller that tracks an elite Spec Ops team on a mission to take down an aggressive phantom threat that cannot be explained, is directed by Nic Mathieu and stars James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, Max Martini, Cory Hardrict and Bruce Greenwood. Legendary's Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni produce the film with a story by Ian Fried and Nic Mathieu and screenplay by George Nolfi that is executive produced by Jillian Share and Guy Riedel. Spectral will be released by Universal Pictures.
Bridget Jones' Baby - September 16
Oscar® winners Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth reprise their roles in the next chapter of the world's favorite singleton in Bridget Jones' Baby. Directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones's Diary), the new film in the beloved comedy series based on creator Helen Fielding's heroine finds Bridget unexpectedly expecting. Patrick Dempsey joins the cast for the third installment, and longtime collaborators Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films produce alongside Debra Hayward. Universal Pictures will distribute Bridget Jones's Baby in North America and select international territories.
The Girl on the Train - October 7
Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Edgar Ramirez and Allison Janney star in DreamWorks Pictures' The Girl on the Train, from director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get on Up) and producer Marc Platt (Bridge of Spies, Into the Woods). In the thriller, Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds. Based on Paula Hawkins' bestselling novel, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is adapted for the screen by Erin Cressida Wilson and Taylor. The film's executive producers are Jared LeBoff and Celia Costas, and it will be released by Universal Pictures.
Kevin Hart: What Now? - October 14
In Universal Pictures' Kevin Hart: What Now?, comedic rock-star Kevin Hart follows up his 2013 hit stand-up concert movie Let Me Explain, which grossed $32 million domestically and became the third-highest live stand-up comedy movie of all time. Hart takes center stage in this groundbreaking, record-setting, sold-out performance of "What Now?"-filmed outdoors in front of 50,000 people at Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field-marking the first time a comedian has ever performed to an at-capacity football stadium.
Ouija 2 - October 21
In Ouija 2, the sequel to fall 2014's sleeper hit that opened to No. 1 at the box office, a group of unsuspecting friends must confront their most terrifying fears when they unleash an evil from the other side that only they can send back. The next chapter of the supernatural thriller series inspired by the ancient spirit board is once again produced by Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Purge series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Blumhouse Productions' Jason Blum (The Purge and Insidious series), alongside Hasbro's Brian Goldner (Transformers and G.I. Joe series) and Stephen Davis (Ouija). Mike Flanagan & Jeff Howard (Oculus) wrote the screenplay, and Universal will distribute the film worldwide.
A Meyers Christmas - November 11
A new comedy from producer Will Packer (Ride Along and Think Like a Man series) and writer/director David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim), A Meyers Christmas is the unlikely story of an estranged family that must reunite for their first Christmas since the death of the beloved family matriarch.
The Great Wall - November 23
Directed by Zhang Yimou, The Great Wall tells the story of an elite force making a last stand for humanity on the world's most iconic structure. An official Chinese co-production, Legendary is partnered with Universal Pictures, China Film Co., Ltd and Le Vision Pictures. Le Vision Pictures and China Film Co., Ltd will distribute the film in China. The film will be globally released in 3D by Universal Pictures on Friday, November 23, 2016, with the Chinese market opening during the 2016 holiday season.
Let It Snow - December 9
Weaving together three unexpected romances that take place over the course of one Christmas Eve, Universal Pictures' Let It Snow is based on the beloved short story collection written by John Green ("The Fault in Our Stars"), Maureen Johnson ("13 Little Blue Envelopes") and Lauren Myracle ("Internet Girls" series). Bluegrass Films' Scott Stuber (Ted series, Identity Thief) and Dylan Clark (Planet of the Apes series, Oblivion) will produce the holiday film from a script by Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect series).
Sing - December 21
Illumination has captivated audiences all over the world with the beloved hits Despicable Me, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, Despicable Me 2 and Minions, now the second-highest-grossing animated movie in history. Following the release of The Secret Life of Pets in summer 2016, Illumination presents Sing at the holidays. Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Tori Kelly star in a musical comedy about finding the shining star that lives inside all of us. Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Sing stars Buster Moon (Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey), a dapper Koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal optimist-okay, maybe a bit of a scoundrel-who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now facing the crumbling of his life's ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world's greatest singing competition. Five lead contestants emerge: A mouse (Seth MacFarlane) who croons as smoothly as he cons, a timid teenage elephant (Tori Kelly) with an enormous case of stage fright, an overtaxed mother (Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon) run ragged tending a litter of 25 piglets, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton) looking to break free of his family's felonies, and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo. Each animal arrives under Buster's marquee believing that this is their shot to change the course of their life. Featuring more than 85 hit songs, Sing is written and directed by Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy. Released by Universal Pictures, Sing arrives in theaters for the holiday season on December 21, 2016.
What do you think? Do yo see some big summer blockbusters? Will any of them take home Oscar gold? Are there ones you can't wait to see? What are you passing on? Let us know which Universal Pictures releases you'll be standing in line for these next 12 months, which ones you'll wait to watch at home. And which ones you are passing on all together!